What if such a town existed? A town that never went flat, sunshine year-round, relaxed beach culture, affordable living costs and waves for all abilities. Sounds too good to be true in Europe, right? Well, think again. Peniche, in Portugal, has the perfect blend of everything you want from a top surf destination.
From the beginner-friendly beach breaks of Baleal to the heavy sandbar barrels of Supertubos, there’s something for everyone. But with so much many options comes a choice…
Where to surf? What’s the best spot for my ability, and where should I stay to maximise my wave count? To answer these questions and many more, we’re diving deep into everything you need to know for surfing in Peniche. Let’s get it!
Table of Contents
What is the Best Time of Year to Surf in Peniche?
The best time to surf in Peniche depends on your ability and the waves you like. The summer (June, July, and August) has the smallest and most user-friendly waves. Unfortunately, it’s also the most crowded.
Autumn is one of the best times to surf for all abilities! In September, swells start rolling in, waking up Portugal’s premier surf spots after their summer-long slumber. But while these spots start cranking, there are many sheltered corners and spots to keep things manageable for beginners and intermediates.
In winter, Portugal truly starts to crank. As huge swells from the North Atlantic slam the coast, all sorts of weird and wonderful surf breaks come to life. Winter is an excellent time to be a surfer in Portugal, and if you’re an advanced surfer, score the best waves.
Peniche Surf Info Snapshot
Peniche Surf Forecast
Best Surf Spots in Peniche
Baleal is a long, crescent-shaped beach with countless peaks. Coutinho, at the northern end, is where much of the action happens. In the corner, the waves are smaller, and as you reach the middle, the waves become progressively bigger.
The waves can vary massively in how they break at Baleal, depending on the sand banks. But generally, if you’re a novice surfer, stick to the corner where the waves are smaller. If you’re looking for something more challenging, head to the middle.
Breaking off a rock jetty, Molho Leste is a super fun, a powerful right-hander. It provides long wedging walls and barrel sections; perfect wave for advanced surfers and bodyboarders looking to get tubed and hit big sections. Molho Leste is always crowded when it’s on; even the pros have trouble getting waves here; check out this video of the 2012 world champ, Joel Parkinson, getting slapped by a local bodyboarder!
Across the narrow ribbon of sand separating Baleal and Legide is a beachie with multiple fun peaks. Often the waves here break fatter and more forgivingly than in Baleal, meaning many surf schools choose to take their students here.
This length of coast is one of the most consistent stretches in Portugal. Seriously, the waves never go flat here. When it’s small in town, head North! While you might burn through fuel looking for the best banks, you’ll always find something. Although having somewhere this consistent is great, this stretch gets too big with even the slightest increases in swell.
Regarded as one of the best waves in Europe, Super is the main draw for surfing in Peniche. On its day, Supers produces perfect 6-8ft peeling barrels–the stuff of dreams for advanced surfers. The spot is famous worldwide for hosting the world’s best surfers each March during the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
While the waves here are amazing, don’t let the beauty fool you, the waves are no joke and get seriously heavy. A frame peaks breaking over shallow sandbars packed with bodyboarders and local chargers.
Peniche Surf Spot Map
Here’s an overview of the main surf spots in and around Peniche.
How to Get to Peniche?
Getting to Peniche is simple. If you’re coming from overseas, fly to Lisbon. Peinche is a 1-hour drive from the International Airport, and the best way to reach Peniche is by car. (You can find cheap rental cars here). Alternatively, you can take the bus from Lisbon to Peniche (check out the bus times here). Many surf accommodations offer transfers to and from town, so contact your host beforehand.
If you’re arriving from within Portugal, the highway system is excellent throughout the country, and Peniche is easy to reach. Remember that much of Portugal has toll roads, which can be an annoying additional cost if you’re on a budget surf trip.
Where to Stay in Peniche?
Peniche has great accommodations for all budgets. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favourites.
Peniche Surf Lodge
Peniche Surf Lodge is a wicked place to stay! The owners’ Claire and Duncan, are legends and will do everything they can so you enjoy your time and get as many waves as possible.
The lodge also offers coaching for all abilities, and the accommodation itself is a cool, intimate place to hang out with dorms and privates available. By far one of the best places to stay in Peniche.
If you’re a digital nomad looking to score waves and get a taste of life in Portugal, Selina is a great option. Surround yourself with great people, cool vibes and, most importantly, great wifi. Selina’s always has a reliable wifi connection, privates and dorms and co-work space for some between surf emails.
There are a few decent campsites in Peniche, so if you prefer the great outdoors and a super affordable surf trip, you’re in luck. However, prices on several campground websites are confusing as you have to pay for your vehicle AND the per-adult rate. So unless you have a wicked van and just need a hot shower, hostel rooms often work out at a similar price. Here’s a map of the best campsites in Peniche.
How to get Around in Peniche?
Getting to Peniche by car is the best; it just allows you to chase waves on your terms. Moreover, you can find cheap hire cars from Lisbon Airport, especially during winter. During my visit in February 2023, I found a rental for $54 for the entire two weeks. Yep, I know, crazy right?
If you’re staying in town, you can get around on foot. You could surf Baleal and make the long walk to Supertubes if you had to, but a long walk is the last thing you want after a 4-hour surf session. But if you’re happy surfing only occasionally, getting lifts and arranging surf trips with others, you can walk to shops and restaurants anywhere in Peniche.
While the most expensive, at least flexible option for getting around Peniche, you could get taxis if you had to! However, I would strongly advise against this, particularly if you’re on a budget, with the ability to walk to places, and cheap hire cars, it would be silly!
Tips for Surfing in Peniche
Like all great surf towns, Peniche has its share of localism. Locals can be highly territorial over their waves, and I’ve heard many tales of fights in the water and locals screaming at people to go in. While this type of behaviour does suck (reserved only for frustrated kooks who can’t travel, in my opinion), locals have the right to get the best waves!
While Peniche is super consistent, finding the best place to surf can be tricky. When onshore up north and the swells are small, your options are limited, and the motivation to drive up the coast for 1-2ft slop. But at least you have the option.
When the waves are great, particularly up north, you’ll do a ton of driving. Always chasing something better. It’s a strange feeling; when you’re at a bank with fun waves and no one out, but you feel like you’re missing out! Seriously I’ve had many a solo session wondering where everyone is and whether there’s a bank twice as good just down the next track.
Where to Eat in Peniche?
If you’re a fan of seafood, you’re in a great place to eat some of the freshest fish you’ve ever eaten. When you surf early, you can see the trawlers come in, a large portion of which will be sold to the local seafood restaurants.
But the jewel of your culinary ventures in Portugal comes from bakeries. Pastel De Natas (custard tart) are the perfect post-surf snack, and at less than $1.00 a piece, you can put a few away post-morning sessions. There are countless cafes where you can perch up, whip out your laptop, drink expressos and sample a De Nata or five. My favourite spot is Aloha cafe in Ferrel (10 mins north of Peniche).
Peniche Cost Snapshot
Make Your Peniche Surf Trip Happen (Step-by-Step)
Peniche Surf Lessons & Surfboard Hire
Digital Nomad Surfing in Peniche
While not as established a digital nomad surf destination as its rival surf town Ericeira, Peniche is an epic place to get work done and score waves. With so many accommodations and cafes around the joint, you can easily smash out emails between surf sessions. Some of my favourite places to work include Aloha cafe in Ferrel, Selina and Danau in Baleal. All have decent wifi and are great for getting in the zone.
Portugal offers a three-month visa on arrival for residents of most countries, but check the official visa requirements on the official government website. Additionally, Portugal provides a digital nomad visa, allowing nomads to stay and work online in the country for longer.
Peniche Surf Competition
Every March, the best surfers on the planet descend on Peniche to battle for the MEO Pro Portugal title. It’s a great tie to visit Peniche, as the usually sleepy surf town has a more lively vibe to it. If Supers is on during the waiting period, the event is a spectacle.
Non-Surfing Activities in Peniche
There isn’t much to do in Peniche besides surfing and enjoying the beautiful beaches and surrounding coastline. But if you’re looking for something more, Lisbon (one of Europe’s best cities) is only 1 hour away.
Final Words on Surfing in Peniche
Peniche is one of the best surf destinations in the world, let alone just Portugal. There is endless potential for waves and always something to surf, no matter your ability. The beaches are clean and beautiful, and the climate is warm year-round.
With a slower pace of life than elsewhere in Europe and a consistent place to surf, you’ll be hard-pushed to find better. Let me know about your experience of surfing in Peniche below!
Peniche Surf - FAQs
The best time of year to surf in Peniche is during Autumn/Winter. This time of year offers the perfect combination of good swells, climate and conditions. Because of the variety of spots, there is always something to surf, no matter your level.
This depends on your ability. Baleal is arguably the most accommodating spot for all abilities. The crescent-shaped bay means waves vary in size depending on how far down you go, meaning beginners can surf in the sheltered corner, whereas advanced riders can head to the middle.
Both are two of the best surf towns in Portugal, with amazing waves and a great vibe. If you’re after beach breaks and more beginner-friendly options, Peniche will be your best bet, but if you’re looking for some reef breaks and more challenging, scary slab-type surfing, Ericeira might have what you’re after.
Yes. Peniche, particularly Baleal, is an excellent place for beginner surfers. The long beach has a sheltered corner, meaning beginners can surf in all conditions.
Yes, but only for surfing. Because the town has such a strong surf culture, the town attracts surfers all year round, and in summer, things get super busy!